A new adventure

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120, one of the two boats I'll be demoing for purchase.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120, one of the two boats I’ll be demoing for purchase.

*Note: this post went live on Saturday, so some of you may have seen it.  It wasn’t supposed to, as it was still lacking photos and some final edits.  Not sure what happened there, but oh well – here it is again, in its final form.

It’s time for a new adventure, so starting this spring, I’ll be taking my photography out on the water. I’m a couple of weeks into the research and planning stage, which is sort of an exciting necessary evil when it comes to this kind of thing. But the quick version is that I’ll be acquiring a kayak by April and using it to further my wildlife and nature photography.

Shooting from the water is one of those things that gives some photogs heart-attacks just thinking about it. And I get that – having $2k worth of gear with you in a small boat, surrounded by electronics-killing water definitely represents more of a risk than shooting from dry land.

At the same time, it also offers a massive increase in opportunities. Being out the water offers new vantage points, as well as access to areas that are unreachable on foot, to say nothing of the opportunity to find and approach a much wider range of wildlife. And for me, these pros far outweigh the risks.

Wilderness Systems Commander 120 - a kayak that is popular with photographers.

Wilderness Systems Commander 120 – a kayak that is popular with photographers.

I’ve been a kayaker for many years; my family got a bulbous, blundering old kayak when I was about 8 and we hauled it around the local lakes until I was in my teens and finally bought my own kayak. During high school and college breaks, I explored every inch of the local ponds and lakes and had several incredible (and fairly exciting) encounters with critters, and specifically with moose.

In the years since, I haven’t had much time on the water. And I miss it badly; it isn’t just an opportunity to improve my photography, but also a chance to kind of escape from the day-to-day crap and find some clarity. Nothing beats a good, hard paddle across the lake when life has you pissed-off. (And if you’re still mad when you reach the opposite shore, you sure won’t be by the time you get back to the launch!)

The trick right now is to find a boat that’s going to meet my needs. There are a lot of options, in every price range imaginable. It’s been difficult narrowing it down, but I think I finally have it narrowed down to two options. There’s a pair of retailers within an hour or so; I have to see if either has both boats in stock and will let me demo them before I make my final decision.

I’ll write more about this all soon, and it’s a safe bet that I’ll have the boat in the water as soon as the ice melts. Prudence insists that I make a couple of runs sans-camera gear first, to get a feel for how it handles. And then the real fun can begin!

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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1 Comment

  1. Just in case, do you know how to swim?

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